The paper illustrates the data concerning casualties at sea where the ship was completely lost and special attention is paid to the loss of human lives as well as to the causes of these events. The characteristics of ferries are examined together with those elements that, as has also been demonstrated by the experience with serious accidents, can compromise their safety. Suggestions are put forward to prevent loading errors, to enhance escaping and abandoning the ship, to reduce the probability and minimize the danger of flooding, etc.


A long term research on safety of life and the protection of environment in ship design has been undertaken in Italy with the financial support of Ministry of University, Scientific and Technological Research. This research involves the Universities of Genova (Mathematical modelling of propulsion system and its its behaviour in rough weather), Napoli (Analysis of casualties at sea, Suggestions for increased operational safety and regulations) and Trieste (Mathematical modelling of large amplitude ship motions and flooding process). The research is in progress (Francescutto, 1992, 1993, Mestro et al., 1992a, 1992b, 1993, Russo Krauss & Cardo, 1996). In this paper, some guidelines drawn from the analysis of casualties at sea are reported.


There are many ways in which a State can be directly involved in a casualty which has led to the loss of the ship. Consequently, it is extremely hard, if not impossible, for a maritime State to unilaterally adopt safety measures concerning the construction and/or operation of the ships flying its flag. It is equally difficult to adopt measures aiming at limiting the navigability of its own waters and/or denying access to its ports to those ships which do not meet certain safety standards.

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